Sunday, April 19, 2009

You Win Some; You Lose Some

So the really big news is that the baby was finally born; our son - Benjamin:

The first night at home was, as most of you may suspect, mostly sleepless. Mom is doing fine (as well as anyone under the circumstances, I'd guess), dad walks around in a sleepy haze most of the time, and Benjamin is working on his leet eating skillz. He has them. Almost.

We were scheduled for labor induction on Friday morning, and knowing this, there was not a lot of sleep happening even the night before the baby was born; nervousness set in, for both Lori and me. But besides being tired from the get-go, everything worked out alright, and he was born roughly 9 hours after the midwife punctured the amniotic sac. We stayed the night, got him checked out by the pediatrician and were sent home yesterday afternoon.


... and I'm already back at the games. I have a $650 bonus to clear at Party that requires me to get 400 party points a day until the 25th. So far, I'm on schedule, and playing about 3,000 hands a day does the trick, and that's roughly the volume I set for myself as a goal anyway. Unfortunately, I've been running about as bad as I can imagine running for an extended period of time and am experiencing all the usual self-doubts and loss of confidence that follows. I'm sure my opponents think I suck, and personally I feel like I'm getting owned left and right, in almost every big pot - but I rationally realize that getting owned left and right is what happens when you're dealt a great, but second best, hand over and over again, and not nearly often enough getting action when you have the nuts yourself.

Still, I managed to grind out a small profit today after being down in the vicinity of 4 buy-ins at the low point, so that's good. I'm roughly break-even for the month including bonuses, which sucks, but I'll manage. The tide will turn and I will run well again - all I can do in the meantime is make sure I continue table selecting carefully, staying focused and logging the hands. It'll come in due time. I'm still feeling very optimistic about having a winning month overall - and while I don't want to tempt fate, I'll happily concede that even a break-even month is certainly no disaster. My long-term win-rate at 1/2 - current monster downswing included - is 4bb/100, and I have no reason whatsoever to believe that my game has deteriorated to a point where I'm suddenly losing money. In fact, I think I play better now than I ever have, and while I'm sure some of my opponents are getting better as well, I never sit at a table that doesn't have at least one big donor available.


And, seriously, in the grand scheme of things - what's a downswing? I have a son!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A few observations

1. I clearly am not up for playing poker every single day of the week. I've done so this week, in part because I wanted to test myself and see how I'd feel about it, but also because I wanted to get a flying start to it all and put a lot of volume in now before the baby comes (after which all bets are off, for now). So today, I'm a little worn out and will probably take at least one day off of poker to recharge a bit, but so far this month I've managed to play 12.5k hands which puts me right on schedule for playing 75k/month. And this is while having been in the office at least halftime.

2. I can pretty easily play 10 tables in parallel, which makes a massive difference in the amount of volume I can play as opposed to playing 6 tables. I think this is primarily due to the fact that now that I'm mostly home from work, I can pick the timing of my sessions to fit when I'm feeling the most alert and up for it. When I come home after 8-10 hours in the office and sit down to play a lot of my energy for that day has already been expended.

3. Stars regs - and I'll probably get to eat my words for saying this - at 1/2 are decent players preflop but kinda suck postflop. I don't need a huge sample to notice this; many of them have an OK 24/20-type style, but seem to not get that if

a) you play a quarter of all hands, it stands to reason that
b) when you float 60% of flops in position, you
c) can't actually have it all that often, so when
d) I check to you on the turn and you bet, you will
e) get owned by this particular 19/16 nit.

4. It's really nice to get off to a great start, results wise, when you're going pro - even if it's just a temporary gig. Thank you, poker gods.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Baby Steps

So far, my Awesome Pro Poker Career (or NAMBLA) has been tentatively successful, and I'm not measuring that in cash won, but in managing to play the requisite volume of hands and feeling good about myself which bodes well for the coming five months. Here's what's happened so far:

I've played four sessions for a total of 3.5k hands, and am up about one buy-in. Nothing spectacular there; I believe this to be below my expectation but I can live with it.

I've had an "aha!" moment in regards to rakeback/bonuses where it dawned on me that with the large increase in volume I'll play, this money will now be more than just icing on the cake. I can probably stand to make close to $2,000 off of Party promotions alone per month.

I sat down and talked things over with Alan (who coached me earlier) yesterday and he basically just gave me a thumbs up on everything Lori and I had talked about, and reinforced the idea that there's a lot of money in clearing bonuses (and that I should consider that a major source of income at these levels). After talking about that for maybe 30 minutes, we ended up looking through a series of hands that he's been struggling with and wanted my input on. It was a great discussion and we both enjoyed it so much that we agreed to make it a bi-weekly recurring event. 90 minutes or so every two weeks; I bring a set of hands that I'm struggling with and he'll do the same and we'll just talk through them and see what we think.

Alan's adamant about this being "a discussion between peers" but I still consider free coaching, heh. Still, if it's worthwhile for him, and definitely worthwhile for me, then it's a win/win I suppose.

I'm doing a brief tour on Stars (a site I play very little at nowadays) because I had $400 worth of old reload bonuses just lying around that felt silly not to clear. In doing so, I also managed to clear silverstar (that happens real fast when you're 10-tabling 200NL) which means that I have two months to spend my FPPs on tournament tickets. Once I've cleared the last bonus, I'll be back at Party, tearing up the regs and wrecking havoc on the fish. The goal of playing 75k hands/month seems doable, even with lots of time spent doing other things, and I'm basically just really excited.

Well, well. Either way, before the baby's born, everything's up in the air a little bit and no real routines can be settled. Then again, I've always liked living day-to-day and not be caught in too rigid plans, so perhaps that suits me just fine. The worry that I won't be able to make the required cashouts still lingers, but it got majorly soothed with the revalation about the value of the Party promotions that I'll actually be able to clear.

Also, the sun is shining, spring is coming and I'm sooooo ready to take time off of work. There's no place like home.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April 2nd

Just a clarification for the paranoid (hi, Taylor!):

Yesterday's post was not an april's fools joke.

(Also, I'm happy to tell you that my first day of April did not suck, and I ended up winning two buy-ins, despite getting it in with aces vs. kings pre and losing. Now I just need to win two buy-ins every day for the rest of the month and I'll be in pretty good shape.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hell Just Froze Over.

It must've.

I'm going to take a five month unpaid leave from work to play poker and spend time with my family. Me, the guy who has repeatedly said again and again that playing poker full time was not for him, has now decided to give it a shot anyway. Why?

The trigger for this is that the company I work for is going through a really rough stretch, much like every other company in the world. The difference is that since we're relatively small (only 25 people) we didn't have the necessary cash reserves to deal with having customers who can't pay, and as time goes by it gets harder and harder to meet the payments. So now we're at the junction where we have to lay more people off, and drop further in salaries (we've already taken a 10% hit). The reason to lay people off isn't that we can't find work for everyone, it's that we simply don't have the money to pay them. We have about $500,000 in outstanding bills - that are owed us - and if we could get that money in, we'd be home free. But alas.

So instead of having to let anyone go, I've volounteered to take a leave of absence. Temporarily. In practise it means that the company will have to work a little harder to do my job as well, but they'll save my wages and associated fees while I'm off, maybe $6,000/month. Not huge money in the grand scheme of things, but every little bit helps. I hope.

So that's the triggering reason, the most important reason. There are three other reasons for why this may be a good idea:
  1. I get to spend all day at home, with my wife and my newborn baby. That's pretty awesome.
  2. I get to be "off work" (yeah, poker is work, but it's not comparable) all throughout the summer.
  3. After years of hemming and hawing over whether or not I'd make good money off of playing professionally, I finally get to find out.
So this is a little nerve-wrecking, but also exciting. I'm excited about spending so much time with my family, and I'm worried about not being able to actually make up for the loss in wages by playing poker. But after discussing it with Lori, it's clear that the worst case scenario is still one we can survive: Even if I can't make any cashouts whatsoever during this period because I run like shit for five months, we still have enough in our savings account to make all the bills.

In order to "make it" without it costing us anything, I'd need to cash out about $3,000 a month (yeah, the Swedish currency has dropped quite a lot vs the dollar, so that's a plus, too), which is less than I've averaged in the last five months while playing only recreationally. Or what you'd call it.

I'm a long ways off from being totally baller. But I think I have a decent shot at winning at least enough so that this won't be a drain on our economy. And hopefully I'll be able to make a lot more.

So, cross your fingers and toes and whatever else you can think of crossing, and here's to hoping this will be a great summer.